Fasching / Carnival in Germany


Different areas of Germany celebrate carnival, or Fasching, different. Fasching is the time from November 11, 11 minutes past 11 (11.11 11:11), until Ash Wednesday. It is a combination of political satire and the traditional chasing out of winter. Many of you may be familiar with the carnival in Rio de Janeiro or Mardi Gras.


Why is the "11" so important for the German carnival? During the time of Napoleon, the French motto was "Egalit, Legalität,  Fraternität" (sorry, I have no idea how it's spelled) and if you take the first letter of each word, it spells "elf" the German word for eleven. The speeches were secret "messages", thus the political satire. This is the "offical" information from the Cologne carnival homepage:


Carnival has been celebrated in the City of Cologne since time immemorial. However, after the French Revolutionary troops left Cologne in 1814 and the Prussians took over, it was high time to "organise" the street carnival which, the new authority felt, was getting out of hand.
Thus, in 1823 the "Festordnendes Komitee" was founded, the predecessor of today's Festive Committee.
On February 10, 1823 Cologne celebrated the first Rose Monday ("Rosenmontag") with the motto "Inthronisation of the Carnival Hero".
Over the years, decades and centuries certain traditions and customs emerged, which are still the hallmark of the traditional Cologne Carnival: the indoor festivities (sessions and balls) and, of course, the street carnival, culminating in the grand parade on Rose Monday. It is the task of the Festive Committee, the umbrella organisation representing well over 100 Cologne carnival associations, traditional corps, etc., to coordinate, set common standards, and preserve the tradition of the "fifth season".
No doubt, the Cologne "Karneval" plays in the Champions League together with the Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro and Carnival in Venice!

The Carnival Season
Given its Christian roots, the date of Rose Monday is determined by the Church calendar: It takes place on the Monday before Ash Wednesday, which in turn marks the beginning of Lent leading up to Good Friday and Easter. Traditionally, the fifth season is declared open at 11 minutes past eleven on the eleventh of November! The Carnival spirit is then temporarily suspended by the Advent and Christmas period, and picks up again "in earnest" in the New Year. Street carnival, also called "the crazy days", takes places between Thursday (Women’s Carnival Day) before Rose Monday and ends on Ash Wednesday.



In Babenhausen, where I lived at the time, a tradition was to have a couple represent them during the Faschng season as Prince and Princess. In the season 1981 / 1982 my husband and I were selected as the towns Fasching Prince Michael I. and Princess Dorrie I.


On November 7, 1981, we were announced as the new prince and princess.



Read more


Ash Wednesday was February 24, thus making my 22 birthday fall on Fasching Tuesday. We were also married 22 years, making us the "perfect" Fasching royals.


Our costumes were selected from the great sortment of the theators in Frankfurt. We were the first couple to introduce the cities shield on the front of the princes' costume.


One of our first duties was to organize a big reception for all the carnival and city VIP'S of Babenhausen. Together with the help of my dance group and other friends we put together what I consider one of the best receptions that were ever done... and I'm not just bragging!


receiving the key to the city


In other cities they may not have a prince and princess. In Cologne for example they have the "Dreigestirn", 3 men dressed as the "Prince", the "Bauer" (Farmer), and the "Jungfrau" (Virgin), who is actually a man dressed as a woman.


Dreigestirn, Cologne 2009


In earlier times, women were not allowed to take part in the festivities, at least not on stage. The only real woman was the "Tanzmariechen" or "Funkenmariechen", or marching girl, who wears a uniform styled outfit with a very short skirt. She would march in with the marching men, all dressed in old-fashioned military uniforms, and perform either a solo dance or a duet with a partner.



Today there are "Funkenmariechen" competitions, both soloists and whole groups.... a very colorful and talented treat.


"Sitzungen" and Masquerade balls


The biggest events were the "Sitzungen", stage shows with all sorts of acts, from marching girls, singing, dance shows, more singing, fun speeches (usually politcal satires), etc. In some parts of Germany, like in Mainz and Frankfurt, the audience dress in long evening gowns and tuxedos. But in the real FUN cities, like Cologne, the audience dress up in all sorts of colorful costumes.


Michael and I at one such "Sitzung"


Many masquerade balls also take place with lots of dancing, often with a partner you don't know because of the costume, and LOTS of drinking and flirting.


The highlight of the Fasching/Carnival season is happens on the days from the Thursday before Ash Wednesday until the Tuesday before. The Thursday is reserved for the women. Any man caught wearing a tie on that day gets that cut off, as a symbol for.... well, I won't elaborate.


The larger cities will usually have their parades on Saturday or Sunday, for business/commercial, as well as traffic reasons, with the exception of Cologne which has it's parade on the Rose Monday, as mentioned above. Other towns and villages will have theirs also on Monday or Tuesday. Since many marching bands and groups are asked to be in many different parades, spreading the parades over different days makes that possible.




1983 / 1984



Wie eh und jeh, 25 Jahre CVB

1982 / 1983



Nix Hall, trotzdem Carneval

1981 / 1982



Wir sparen dass die Schwarte kracht,

und feiern trotzdem Fessenacht

1980 / 1981



33 Jahre CVB


up-date: 03.02.2012